August 31, 2013

Vacation Souvenirs

Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, July 1962. My Mom painted these watercolors during our vacation "Up North."

Social Knitting

Knitting knots new friendships on Swan's Island.

A Serious Child

Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1935 or 1936. My paternal Grandfather, Vytautas, probably took this photo of my Dad.


Rockford, Illinois, June 1957. My Parents again visit their Rockford friends. Their German Shepherd mouths the hand of the hostess's mother. My Mom and my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, sit on the upper level of the entryway.

End-of-Occupation Anniversary

The Soviet army withdrew from Lithuania twenty years ago today.

Let's hope it stays out.

August 30, 2013

Front Steps

Suburban Chicago, June 1962. Here's another photo taken fifty years ago. Mom, my paternal Grandmother Tatjana, and I stand on the front steps of my childhood home.

Nina K., Later

Soviet Union, about 1931. Here's another later portrait of Nina K. Nina K. was the mother of my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana.

Familiar Names

Johnny Unitas, Ruta Lee, and Dick Butkus inducted into the Lithuanian Hall of Fame.

Camp Song

Ontario, Canada, about 1962. The folksters perform at a summer camp Toronto Al attended.

Thanks to Toronto Al for making this photo available to us.

"Protect the Privates."

A new campaign tries to compete with the "Save the Ta-Tas" slogan.



British grannies who knit a village as a gift to a children's hospital feel snubbed when the a hospice rejects the items because the wool cannot be sterilized.

It doesn't take a village to figure out that unsterile items are unsafe for children being treated for cancer or for children who otherwise have weakened immune systems.


"Russian political scientist: If NATO attacks Syria, Russia should occupy Baltic States."

Will the subject arise when President Obama meets today with the presidents of the three Baltic republics?

August 29, 2013


Cape Cod, Massachusetts, July 1963. Dad wore that polo shirt so often that when I look at this snapshot, I remember his scent.


Toronto, Ontario, July 1963. The sparrow that landed on me also visited my Toronto Cousin.

The Moms oversee service at the children's table.

Suburban Chicago, December 1964. Turkey was on the menu.

Camp season winds down.

Camp Aušra (later Camp Kretinga), Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada, Summer 1957. The residents of the Lithuanian summer camp mark a ceremony.
Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

August 28, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mr. B.

Madison, Wisconsin, October 2003. Our Baci celebrates his tenth birthday today.

It's the last week of "summer."

Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin, July 1962. I enjoy every moment.


Seligenstadt, Germany, about 1946. My Mom's friends light up for the camera.


Probably near Vilnius, Lithuania, about 1932. In this group, Suzanne—the wife of my Dad's older cousin, Henry—is the woman sitting next to the priest. I don't know whether this was Suzanne's extended family, or if she was a teacher joining colleagues and students at a school's entryway. 

Thanks to Suzanne's Granddaughter—my Kaunas Cousin—for making this photo available to us.

August 27, 2013

Lithuanian Food (Again)

RimaRama! writes about dining in Lithuania.

Feeding-Time Reunion

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Verona, Wisconsin, August 2013. We finally hatched some chicks.

Related by Marriage: Chores

Suburban Chicago, Spring 1961. Mr. Irene mows the lawn the proper way, using a hand mower.


Schweinfurt, Germany, about 1946. Here's another image of my paternal Grandmother—on the left—with a friend from the DP camp.

General Manners: Look like you're having fun, even if you're afraid.

Melrose Park, Illinois, August 1962. The "helicopter" at Kiddieland was a daring ride for me.

August 26, 2013

Summer Park

High Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, July 1964. It's a nice place for a walk.


Probably Lübeck, Germany, about 1946. Lithuanian Displaced Persons showcase their cultural ties by creating the coat of arms, the "Vytis," at the entrance to the DP camp.

In Stitches

VW sporting a knitted suit wins "most beautiful beach Beetle of the Year" award.


Near Kaunas, Lithuania, June 16, 1940. My Dad's twin sister, Jonė (second from right), wrote on the back of this photo, "The Bolsheviks have arrived." The Soviet Union occupied Lithuania beginning on June 15, 1940.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

Hey, That's not "Kalinka."

Russian army choir covers "Skyfall."

August 25, 2013


Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, August 2013. I am risk averse, so I don't understand the thrill.

Sunday Entertaining, in the Backyard

Suburban Chicago, Spring 1962. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, and my Mom host a friend. Tatjana appears to be dozing off again.

Walking the plank.

New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital installs a pirate-themed CT scanner.

Reverting to the originals.

When my Dad restored photos, he usually cropped the frames so the snapshots focused on the human subjects. This approach eliminated what interests me: the images' settings. When my Toronto Cousin visited recently, she brought many of the original snapshots. The photos are richer in their original context. Here are two examples. Both images are from the same party, hosted at the home of my paternal Grandparents, Tatjana and Vytautas.

Kaunas, Lithuania, 1940. Here's the image I posted earlier; that's how Dad had cropped it. In this original, Dad still appears disengaged. But I get a better sense of how his Father, Vytautas, took this photo, unnoticed, from the doorway, and captured the seventeen-year-olds' shared moments.

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Kaunas, Lithuania, 194o. Here is the cropped version. In this original—which my Dad's twin sister, Jonė, called "At Home"—Vytautas again stands in the hallway. His wife Tatjana, is aware of his presence, and I get a better sense of what the house looked like.

Related by Marriage: Accordion Lessons, in Three Takes

Mr. Irene took accordion lessons, performed in group recitals, and competed regularly throughout his elementary school years. 
Polkas, Broadway show tunes, and movie themes made up the early curriculum. Within a few  years, Mr. Irene began studying the challenging music of accordion virtuoso performer and educator, Charles Magnante
In 1939 Magnante and his trio played in Carnegie Hall. With a single event, Magnante changed the image of the piano accordion from a folk instrument to a versatile and expressive voice for jazz and classical music. The Magnante Trio soon found new audiences and venues for their work. Magnante dominated the accordion music world with his engaging live performances, musical arrangements, recordings, and original compositions from the 1940s through the early 1960s. 
Mr. Irene played the Magnante composition, Accordion Boogie, for a Chicago-area competition in the summer of 1969. The following spring, Mr. Irene represented his sixth-grade class at a school talent show by reprising this tune. Listen to this thirteen-year-old accordionist play Accordion Boogie much like the young Mr. Irene did—it’s a precise reading, but a little rushed. This version comes from a more seasoned accordionist. The slightly slower rhythm and accented bass make the piece swing.
By the end of his music lessons, Mr. Irene had taken up Lithuanian folk melodies using a guide book he discovered in a Lithuanian gift shop in Marquette Park.
Suburban Chicago, 1965. Sheet music cover for the accordion solo arrangement of Hello Dolly.

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Suburban Chicago, 1969. Sheet music cover for the Magnante composition, Accordion Boogie.

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Suburban Chicago, 1971. Inside cover page of a Lithuanian-language, accordion method book, The Youngest Accordionist, written by the musician and arranger Povilas Četkauskas. The Chicago-based, Lithuanian-American, Karvelis Press published it. The book featured Lithuanian folk songs and dances as well as solo transcriptions of well known classical piano and opera melodies.

August 24, 2013

Stand-Out Reunion

Pope Farm Conservancy, Verona, Wisconsin, August 2013. There's one in every crowd.

Sea Plane

Lake Nipissing, Ontario, Canada, July 1964. I inspect a Cessna.

"On the roof there are a lot of flying ants."

RimaRama! visits Gediminas's castle in Vilnius.

Let's break for an ice-cream cone.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, about 1950. Vladas—my Toronto Cousin's Father-in-law—remembered to bring his camera.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.


Images from the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic in the 1970s.

Cooling off the right way.

Palanga, Lithuania, about 1933. You've seen this group before in the "svimvear" post. Standing are: my paternal Grandfather, Vytautas; my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, and; Vytautas's sister, Victoria. In the water are: a boy I can't identify; my Dad, and; my Dad's twin sister, Jonė.

August 23, 2013


Chicago, Illinois, July 2013. I'm not sure the Chicago River is the waterway on which I'd like to learn kayaking.


Schweinfurt, Germany about 1946. I don't know what occasion sparked this gathering of Displaced Persons. Perhaps the ceremony marked the induction of a new camp leadership.

Coney Island Beach

Coney Island Beach, New York, 1952. A friend captures Mom and Dad during their outing to Coney Island.

I thought they were carnivores.

Wolves eat watermelons.


Fans wait to see HELP!


Kaunas, Lithuania, about 1935. My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, wears a wool hat and what might pass as a cocktail dress. Did she arrive at the photo studio in that dress, and did the photographer suggest she wear the hat as a dandy prop?

August 22, 2013

Poison Pinkie

"Archaeologists have discovered a ring with an inconspicuous cavity that they believe may have been used to hide poison for political murders in medieval Bulgaria ... It was exquisitely crafted and deliberately hollowed out … The hole would have allowed its wearer to sneakily pour poison into a glass with the flick of his finger."


Glacier National Park, Montana, July 1966. We're approaching Logan Pass.

Outdoor Dining

Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Spring 1957. My Toronto Cousin takes advantage of the nice weather.

Related by Marriage: Swan Pond

Dearborn, Michigan, Spring 1958. Mr. Irene's Mom checks out the pond during a visit to the Henry Ford Museum.


Camp Aušra (later Camp Kretinga), Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada, 1957. Swimmers from the Lithuanian summer camp enjoy the water.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

August 21, 2013

Prepared Remarks

Schweinfurt, Germany, about 1947. A Lithuanian scout addresses a gathering at the Displaced Persons camp. A Lithuanian flag hangs behind the table, and the scouting mottoBudek—appears on each side of the flag.

An Item from a Family "Life Box"

My paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, must have sewn this insignia from her husband Vytautas's uniform onto the piece of aqua-blue silk. My Dad later sent the piece to his twin sister, Jonė, sometime after Tatjana died.
That's Dad's handwriting on the envelope into which he tucked the silk piece. Dad wrote, "From what I remember, Daddy wore this insignia in Russia, pinning it to his shoulder, it looks like it's from the tsar's army."

"How to make koldūnai."

Koldūnai are Lithuanian meat dumplings. I used to make them with my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana. Tatjana cut the dough using a floured juice glass. They were the perfect size.

We recently bought this mold. It arrived directly from the Ukraine.

Summer Table

Kačerginė, Lithuania, Summer 1940. My Dad's twin sister, Jonė—laughing, on the left—joins her cousins for a bowl of soup.

Thanks to my Toronto Cousin for making this photo available to us.

August 20, 2013

The North End

Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois, May 1979. The north end of Northwestern's campus includes the Fraternity Quad.


During World War II, the Germans called the Soviet Union's female fighter pilots "night witches:"

They often operated in stealth mode, idling their engines as they neared their targets and then gliding their way to their bomb release points. As a result, their planes made little more than soft "whooshing" noises as they flew by.
Those noises reminded the Germans, apparently, of the sound of a witch's broomstick. So the Nazis began calling the female fighter pilots Nachthexen: "night witches." They were loathed. And they were feared. Any German pilot who downed a "witch" was automatically awarded an Iron Cross.


Niagara Falls, about 1959. Toronto Al and his Dad, Vladas, set out on a tour boat, the "Maid of the Mist."
Thanks to Toronto Al's wife—my Toronto Cousin—for making this photo available to us.